The Importance of a Running Annual Review (here’s one of mine too)

Rarely do we take a meaningful amount of time and step back from the bustle of our daily lives to reflect on our accomplishments and progresss.


But it’s a valuable tool that can help you stay on track with all of your goals. Author Chris Guillebeau performs his own annual review to evaluate his personal and professional progress.

Have you ever thought about doing it for your running?

Analyzing your running goals, successes, and failures of the past year is a valuable way to truly understand what works for you (and what doesn’t), what you actually enjoy doing from a training perspective, and how you can improve your running to stay healthier or run new personal bests.

You might do this already for your races – I previously published an article by Greg Strosaker about the value of a race post-mortem. This is very similar, except it’s for your entire year’s worth of running.

Admittedly, I’ve only done this a few times and the last review was in 2010. I consider each year that I’ve missed my annual review a wasted opportunity to learn more about myself as a runner. So today I want to encourage you to learn what a good annual review looks like.

Why 2010 Was a Pivotal Year For Me

Everything changed in 2010.

My views on running were refined after my 2008 IT band injury that left me a cripple for six months. After slowly getting back in shape, my fitness grew by leaps in bounds in 2010. I set an annual mileage record (my first in three years) by nearly 200 miles and I won four races

From 2009 to 2014 I trained with no significant injuries until an Achilles injury sidelined me for over a week. But going 5 years with no major problems was an ENORMOUS milestone for me because I used to be chronically injured.

These changes are highlighted in my 2010 Analysis, a comprehensive review of my training that shows you what worked, what didn’t, and how you can learn from my own training to help you become a better runner.

It includes:

  • My complete annual mileage history from 2005 – 2010
  • All of my injuries per year (including my “famous” ITBS from 2009)
  • 3 of the most important lessons I learned – and how you can apply them in your own running
  • My 2010 goals (very few were met – but that’s ok!)
  • Where I screwed up

The full analysis is available here (it’s free). But today I want to give you a preview of the analysis so you can see what really helped me. Enjoy!

I’m Not Perfect – Here’s Where I Screwed Up

Running isn’t all flowers and puppies every day for me – don’t mistake my success for perfection. There are setbacks.

Let’s look at my 2010 screw-ups. I wasn’t being consistent with core workouts in March, then I ran a 3k time trial in spikes on the track. I hadn’t been wearing spikes so it was a new stress for me.

Then I skipped my normal post-run recovery. Then I danced all night at a wedding in dress shoes while drinking. Clearly, I wasn’t making the best decisions!

The next day I had to cut my run short because my left arch was tight…

Lesson learned: realize when you’re introducing too many new training stresses into your program and not recovering properly. You can’t burn the candle at both ends.

Another moment of idiocy happened last September, when I was doing thirty second sprints on pavement in old spikes. I took the spikes out of the shoes, but the sole was very stiff.

Several of the sprints were slightly downhill and I was going at max effort. It felt awkward but I pushed through it, ignoring the fact that I was awkwardly sprinting in uncomfortable shoes downhill.

Doesn’t sound smart does it?

I tweaked my left glute and IT Band that day, but with a very aggressive treatment plan I beat that small injury in a matter of days. Still, in hindsight I can be a total idiot.

Lesson learned: if you’re doing something really hard or fast, and it’s uncomfortable in a bad way, then stop! You have to live to run another day.

You should always be thinking about your training using “the third eye” – meaning, think about it from an outsider’s perspective. Would a coach support what you’re doing? If you make these mistakes, don’t get down on yourself.

Do everything you can to heal:

  • sleep more than usual
  • cross-train if you can every day
  • strengthen the weakened area
  • take ice baths
  • use a foam roller or golf ball to massage the injured area
  • eat as healthy as you can to give your body what it needs to recover

The more perfectly you can execute a recovery plan, the faster you’ll get back to training. 

Get the Whole Review Now

You can get the entire annual review by clicking here. There are six more sections that include the three biggest areas of improvement that helped me stay healthy and run more than ever before (plus a lot more).

Learning from your mistakes is just the first step. Once you find out what you did wrong, then you can fix them to become an even better runner. But more importantly, look at the types of workouts and training that you enjoy.

What kinds of runs motivate you?

What makes you feel alive?

How can you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t?

An annual review might be one of the most productive tools you have to improve. Use it and learn more about yourself. You might just surprise yourself at what you discover next year!

Get the full annual review here.

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